Writing for online: Cater to ‘lazy bastards’?

Last month I posted about story lengths for online news.

The general idea was that shorter is better.

In the meantime I haven’t necessarily practiced at work what I examined there. Then again, I’m an editor not a writer.

Yesterday I came across this article on Slate (thanks Journerdism). It’s been circulating; I even heard a city editor at work discussing it. That, for those in journalism, is amazing.

Basic premise: It’s just length that matters.
It’s style. Short paragraphs. Short sentences. Bullet points. Frequent subheds. Periodic bold-facing of words. Lots of links.

You should really check the link at the end.

So I thought I’d play a little game. Take a graf from a wire story and rewrite it like the Slate article.

Which really stems from this guy.

Here’s the original, as run in today’s Spokesman-Review (credit to Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post):

INDEX, Wash. – With little fanfare, Congress has embarked on a push to protect as many as a dozen pristine areas this year in places ranging from the glacier-fed streams of Wild Sky Wilderness here to West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest. By the end of the year, conservation experts predict, this drive could place as much as 2 million acres of unspoiled land under federal control, a total that rivals the wilderness acreage set aside by Congress over the previous five years.

Now I shall butcher it.

INDEX, Wash.Congress is trying to create about 12 wilderness areas.

They include:

How much we talking?

Some experts predict more than 2 million unspoiled acres will be protected by December.

That means the feds will have say-so.

And that’s about what Congress has set aside in the past five years.

Not exactly poetry. But easy to digest. Maybe.

So, would you accept news written like this from the standard bearers?

2 responses to “Writing for online: Cater to ‘lazy bastards’?

  1. No.

    One of the tenets of journalism is to educate the uneducated. If you stoop to the level of the “lazy bastard,” they will only get more lazy.

    Let’s do what the NYT does. Write well, but accessibly.

  2. Yeah, I don’t think we should stoop either. I can’t imagine our readers would thank us. But hey, I’m just advancing the conversation.

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